Today, Bill Clinton finally admitted he has smoked weed all those years ago. He had no idea there was any confusion because, like Toronto's crack mayor Rob Ford, he thought his original explanations were enough.
When politicians are accused of doing drugs, they always initially deny, deny, deny everything. In almost every situation, some deft linguistic gymnastics keeps them out of trouble for at least a little while. Clinton once merely answered with "none of your business," and Ford wielded a "no comment" statement like an expert swordsman for a period. Clinton's most famous denial came in 1992, during a television interview in England, when the then-Arkansas governorDemocratic candidate described his affection for the taste of rolling papers:
When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn't like it. I didn't inhale and I didn't try it again.
Many understood this to be a denial. Clinton was always understood to have, at least on the record, never smoked marijuana. The smoke didn't enter Clinton's lungs, so he never got high. And he never, ever smoked again. The world was convinced.
Shortly after word of the crack video surfaced, Rob Ford similarly shot down his alleged drug use:
I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.
For months, this was Rob Ford's go-to denial when accused of smoking crack cocaine. Many reporters, including ones from The Wire, noted that Ford did not deny smoking crack. He just wasn't a user of crack.
But then, one day, Ford said this:
Yes I have smoked crack cocaine probably in one of my drunken stupors about a year ago.
Strangely Ford tried to defend his months of denials by accusing reporters of "asking the wrong questions," which, we assure you, they did not. Ford was asked every combination of "do you," or "have you" followed by some conjugation of "smoke" and the noun "crack cocaine." Ford always said no.
Finally, today, Clinton came clean about his own drug use all those years ago. In an interview with Fusion, Clinton said he was open all those years ago:
I didn’t say I was holier than thou, I said I tried. I never denied that I used marijuana. I told the truth, I thought it was funny.
Now it was all a joke. The "didn't inhale" line that followed Clinton's weed rumors for years — decades, even! — was all a joke. He thought everyone knew. The "explainer-in-chief" somehow didn't make that clear through the haze.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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